Like the spirits they pay homage to, the experience here packs a punch–small in scale but big in effect. On a Saturday evening, early-ish, I stand at the end of the bar in the tiny tasting room on E. 6th Street, relishing my love for bitters. This is the place.
“Why do you have so many bitters?” A woman asks.
“It’s what we do,” the bartender says.
Bottles of bitters line the bar, deck the shelves surrounding. It’s more than just Angostura and Regan’s here; Bittermens, Bitter End, Berg & Hauck’s multiple varieties are available both for service and retail. The space hosts maybe 30 guests standing. Low, pressed tin ceilings. Jazz plays in background, undulating beneath the glass-clink of the bartender stirring cocktails by the two and three.
I’m having the 8 Amaro Sazerac, “a riff on the classic:” house amari blend, green chartreuse, orange citrate. It’s served on a single rock in a small, no-frills glass. Amari exempts the rye in this variation, providing sweetness and bitterness in perfect tandem.
On ice, on the bar, beside me is a bank of small flasks, each branded with a mustache decal. It’s the Sharpie Mustache. “Island leather and spice,” the menu describes. Meletti, Bonal, 10 year old rye, gin, tiki bitters. The barman removes the flask from the bucket, unscrews the cap. He treats an orange twist over the mouth of the flask, before curling it inside. Strong, and coolly boozy, the tiki bitters offer casual relief to the heavier subjects: the rye, the gin. The cocktail is perfect for this vessel.
It’s cozy in here. Groups of 5 and 6 are not deterred by the smallness of the room, and the space fills up quickly. If these folks aren’t already connoisseurs of bitters, if they aren’t already amaro aficionados, they might leave as so. Every cocktail on the list–bespoke and house concoctions–feature the namesake elements. Come for the bitters. Stay for the love.